Itumeleng Khune happy to contribute to South Africa under-23 and dismisses criticism

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Khune pulled off a number of crucial saves to ensure a clean sheet as South Africa held the hosts to a 0-0 draw in their Group A opener in Brasilia on Thursday evening.

The experienced shot-stopper, who was included as one of the overage players for the Summer Games, says he used the negativity directed at him back home and turned it into positive energy as he proved doubters wrong.

“I never let anything get into my head. I’m a 24-hour professional. I do my job and I don’t let anything distract me,” said Khune after the match.

“I’ve been in this game for long, and I’ve always told myself ‘any negativity, I turn into positivity’ and that has worked for me in the past, so I’ll keep on doing that. I’ll never answer back to people’s opinions and I’ll always respect their views.”

The 29-year-old Bafana Bafana captain also raised comparisons of the hostile environment at the Mane Garrincha Stadium to that of the Soweto Derby back home, and says he was not intimidated by it.

“To be honest, it’s never intimidating,” he added. “This past weekend we played against Orlando Pirates in front of a 90 000-capacity crowd, so whenever I see the stands full I get motivated,” he explains.

“It’s a big stage and I needed to show my experience. Like I said, I want to inspire the guys on and off the field, and I think I’ve done that. It won’t stop here, we still have two more games to go and the coach told us not to get carried away.

"Yes, we are happy with the point but we can’t be satisfied as a team. We have to work extra hard to try and score goals and win our matches.”